The Ravens' first official training camp practice is still well over three months away, but as head coach John Harbaugh thought on Friday about the latest addition to his team's passing game, he couldn't help but get excited.
"To me, the sky is the limit," Harbaugh said after tight end Owen Daniels passed his physical and finalized a one-year deal worth $1 million, with an additional $1 million available in incentives. Daniels is expected to pair with Dennis Pitta to give the Ravens one of the better pass-catching tight end tandems in the league.
"We're not going to try and downplay anything that we're capable of accomplishing," Harbaugh said. "These are two, I would say, of the best tight ends in the National Football League who fit this offense really, really well. That's what we're looking at.
"Hey, no promises. We have to go out there and do it, we have to prove it. And there will be more tight ends in here besides just two, also. But use your imagination. … You can kind of see where this is going."
The Ravens' signing of Daniels and veteran running back Justin Forsett, who also was at the team facility to complete his one-year deal, continued the organization's offseason efforts to add depth to its offense which fell to 29th in the NFL last season.
Since free agency started less than a month ago, the Ravens have acquired or re-signed six offensive players, the latest two having ties to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who coached both Daniels and Forsett in Houston.
"All football — both of them are all about ball," Kubiak said on the additions of Daniels and Forsett. "The biggest compliment I can give them both is that they'll be great teammates to the guys that are here, and I look forward to having them here."
Daniels, 31, played his first eight seasons with the Texans, during which time he caught 385 balls for 4,617 yards and 29 touchdowns and made two Pro Bowls. Forsett, 28, carried the ball 63 times for 374 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.9 yards per carry for Houston in 2012.
Both players missed significant parts of last season with injuries, as Daniels was limited to five games because of a broken leg and Forsett saw action in just nine games with the Jacksonville Jaguars because of turf toe and a stress fracture in his foot. Both players, who were released within the last month, say they are especially motivated to prove they have plenty of football left.
"I let go where I was the last eight years whenever they let me go. I wasn't good enough for them anymore, but I'm excited to be part of this organization," Daniels said. "Like I said, a ton of respect for how this team plays, the guys that they have around and what they've done. There's no type of anxiety or anything like that. I'm excited to be on board. … When you're with a franchise for that long and they all of a sudden decide that you're not good enough for them anymore and they want to go in a different direction, that definitely gives you a big chip and gets you motivated."
Forsett, who has rushed for 1,692 yards and eight touchdowns over seven NFL seasons, will provide depth at a position that the Ravens badly need it. Starting running back Ray Rice is facing legal issues and a potential league suspension stemming from his February arrest for a physical altercation in an Atlantic City casino with his now wife.
His primary backup the past two years, Bernard Pierce, had shoulder surgery in January, though Pierce said last week he expects to be ready for the start of training camp in July.
The addition of Forsett probably won't stop the Ravens from drafting a running back next month, but it at least gives them some added insurance at the position.
"I'm hungry right now," Forsett said. "I definitely have a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas that I want to get off, and I'm excited about this opportunity. I want to play and I want to win."
Forsett said the Ravens contacted him shortly after he became available and an opportunity to reunite with Kubiak and play for a championship-level organization made his decision a "no-brainer." As for Daniels, being on the open market was a first for him. He visited the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins, but felt a level of comfort with the Ravens and in Kubiak's offense. Daniels' long-time tight ends coach in Houston, Brian Pariani, is now on Harbaugh's staff as well.
"It's a player-friendly offense," Daniels said. "It's a tight end-friendly offense. We spread the ball around to a lot of people. There is no forcing it into one guy, and there are so many weapons here that it's going to be hard for defenses. We're going to have defenses preparing for a lot of different things."
Daniels said he was looking forward to playing with Pitta and helping his new teammates learn Kubiak's offense. He even expressed excitement about being a teammate of rush linebacker Terrell Suggs after the two had some words in previous Ravens-Texans meetings.
But more than anything, he's looking forward to getting back on the field and joining a suddenly accomplished group of offensive threats that includes Rice, Pitta, wide receivers Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown.
"All of those guys are a little different in their own ways, but they're all playmakers," Daniels said. "That's what you want — you want playmakers on the field. It seems like we've got them all over the place on this offense. … With everybody that's here, with the playmakers we have, there is no limit to what direction we can go and what we can do in terms of play-calling and what we can do week-to-week to get the job done."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun